Health care reform is playing a role in a northeastern Pennsylvania Catholic hospital chain’s decision to sell by the end of this year.
Mercy Health Partners has served the Scranton area since the Sisters of Mercy opened Mercy Hospital the city in 1917, but the new law may have influenced the timing of its decision.
The hospital chain runs three hospitals and three outpatient centers.
The law’s burdens mean more spending and reduced federal contributions for the hospital chain over the next five years.
“Health care reform is absolutely playing a role. Was it the precipitating factor in this decision? No, but was it a factor in our planning over the next five years? Absolutely,” Mercy Health Partners President and CEO Kevin Cook told WNEP, a Scranton-Wilkes Barre TV station.
The hospital chain’s finances remain in the black, but Cook said Mercy Health Partners lacks the resources to keep up with the local community’s projected needs over the next five years.
Cook sought to downplay the health care law’s role in the decision to announce the sale after the Catholic Health Association (CHA), which strongly backed the health care law, issued a statement denying the reported connection. CHA’s stance put it at odds with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which condemned its support for the law.
“Reports that health reform is the primary motive behind the sale are completely false, misleading, and politically motivated,” Sr. Carol Keehan, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, said in a statement following the WNEP broadcast.
Initial discussions about selling or merging Mercy Health Parters began long before the health care law passed, Cook said in a subsequent statement.